October 24, 2011

"Talking Eskimo" wheat board video

'Talking Eskimo' wheat board video sparks controversy

By Laura PaytonA Conservative MP who posted an animated video on his website that uses the controversial phrase "talking Eskimo" has taken it down.

Saskatchewan MP David Anderson, parliamentary secretary for the Canadian Wheat Board, posted the video on his website to explain some farmers' opposition to the board. The video is generated from a website where users enter text and a computerized voice reads the text as a conversation between two characters. The video was later pulled off the website.

The script is meant to be a conversation between a fictional wheat board executive and a Saskatchewan wheat farmer who wants to sell his grain to a baker in Calgary.

"Slow down, young man. You are talking Eskimo," the executive tells him. "You cannot do those things in Saskatchewan."
And:The video uses the line about 'talking Eskimo' three times. It also features the board representative telling the farmer he'll be thrown into a maximum security prison cell with a convicted murderer if he tries to sell his grain to a private buyer.

Earlier, National Inuit Leader Mary Simon called it a racist slur.

"The comment is offensive to Inuit, has no place in public discussion, and certainly no place on the website of an elected member of Parliament," Simon said in a statement. "My hope is that the MP in question did not know it was part of the animated video, and that it will be removed immediately."

NDP MP Niki Ashton, whose northern Manitoba Churchill riding is both a port town that makes money off wheat board traffic and has a large First Nations population, tweeted that Anderson should take down the video and apologize.
Comment:  This must be "Insult a Native Week." It's the fifth time since Oct. 20 that a public figure has said something stupid about Indians.

One "talking Eskimo" might be an innocent mistake. But three times isn't a mistake, it's a pattern. Anderson clearly thought the phrase was acceptable and appropriate. To him, "talking Eskimo" was a valid way to say "nonsense."

For more on Eskimo stereotypes, see Vilche the "Eskimo Warrior" and Native Canadians in South Park.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Not so much "Eskimo". It's a fairly neutral term, and "Inuit" is often used incorrectly: "A Yup'ik Inuit woman" is fail on three levels. (Inuit is plural, masculine, and not in the Yup'ik language.)

But "a talking Eskimo". I've never even heard that idiom, and it sounds racist.